The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths University of London

Research Centre run jointly between the Departments of Sociology and English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths University, London


What is Global Critical Theory?

About the seminar

CPCT’s annual research seminar meets on a bi-weekly basis and is open to centre members, graduate affiliates, and other interested staff and students. It aims to serve as a forum for philosophical work and dialogue at Goldsmiths.

The history of critical theory is one of migration and displacement of ideas – of travelling and exiled theory – but to date it has all too often been written as a story of the afterlife of the European Enlightenment. There is a growing research interest in the global reach of critical theory but its emphasis has often been skewed towards the applicability of ideas to local contexts, or to regional and area studies of specific social and political phenomena. This seminar seeks to begin to pose the problem of a ‘global critical theory’ by undertaking a series of soundings of conceptual debates emerging in different locales and conjunctures that foreground the non-Western genesis of crucial problems of contemporary critical theory, as well as the situated problematisation of the forms of historical difference and unevenness that mark the travels of critical theory. The seminar will touch, inter alia, on Caribbean and Latin American debates on the short-circuits, ‘misencounters’ (desencuentros) and misplacements between critical concepts in Europe and the Americas, and their aesthetic figurations in the periodisation of the Baroque and the conceptual persona that is Caliban; explore the uptake by Levantine Marxist intellectuals of Said’s Orientalism; investigate the oft-overlooked contributions of Vietnamese philosophers Trần Đức Thảo to postwar phenomenology and deconstruction, and Nguyễn Khắc Viện to global Marxism; and inquire into the critical theories of fascism originating in interwar Japan. 

Convened by Alberto Toscano (a.toscano [at] and Julia Ng ( [at]

All meetings will take place on Wednesdays from 4:00-6:00pm on Zoom (click here to register).

A detailed session plan including further readings and links to PDFs is available here.


Oct 13—Bolívar Echeverría, ‘Meditations on Baroque’; and Severo Sarduy, ‘Baroque and Neobaroque’ 

Oct 27—José Arico, Marx and Latin America

Nov 10—Beatriz González Stephan, ‘On Citizenship: The Grammatology of the Body-Politic’; and Roberto Schwarz, ​​‘Misplaced Ideas: Literature and Society in Late Nineteenth Century Brazil’

Nov 24—Roberto Fernandez Retamar, Caliban and Other Essays; and Aimé Césaire, A Tempest

Dec 8—Sylvia Wynter, ‘The Ceremony Must be Found: After Humanism’


Jan 26—Mahdi Amel, ‘Is the Heart for the East and Reason for the West? On Marx in Edward Said’s Orientalism’; and Sadik Jalal al-’Azm, ‘Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse’

Feb 9—Trần Đức Thảo, Phenomenology and Dialectical Materialism

Feb 23—Trần Đức Thảo, Phenomenology and Dialectical Materialism (cont’d) 

Mar 9—Nguyễn Khắc Viện, “Confucianism and Marxism in Vietnam” and “Frantz Fanon and the Problems of Independence”

Mar 23—[guest speaker TBA] 


Apr 27—Wambia dia Wamba, “How Is Historical Knowledge Recognized?” and “Development, Post-Leninism and Revolution in Africa”

May 11—[guest speaker TBA] 

May 25—Tosaka Jun, selections

Jun 8—Kojin Karatani, ‘History and Repetition in Japan’ and ‘Buddhism and Fascism’